Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Seeing Clearly

Dear friends,
We had a great weekend, grandson Alex and his fiancé and her little girl akibg with our grandson Ethan visited Saturday evening. Sunday morning, we traveled back “home” to Sybrant Community Church, then spent the afternoon with dear friends. Good times!

On a recent morning, I awoke to heavy fog over the lake. As the sun rose, and the fog began to lift, I was able to slowly see the trees and buildings more clearly. It reminded me of the process of coming to faith in God and his salvation.

When the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ begins to shine in our hearts, we get a glimpse of who He is, and why he came. It may be just a spark at first, but as we begin to respond to that spark the light will become brighter.

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ.

When Jesus healed a blind man as recorded in Mark’s gospel, he healed the man in two stages. After he had put saliva on the man’s eyes, he asked him what do you see? ” He answered, “I see people, they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes… then his eyes were opened and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:23-25). It was a process of learning to see clearly as his faith grew. Sight was there, but it was not complete.

In the words of the song writer,
“Just like a blind man, I wandered along.
Worries and fears I claimed for my own.
Then like the blind man that God gave back his sight,
Praise the Lord, I saw the light.”

As the fog lifts and the sun breaks through, we see clearly what was hidden. It is much the same when we begin to realize that we need Jesus. Sin has blinded us to the presence of God, but when the fog of disbelief begins to lift, we are able to clearly see the light of Christ. Have you seen the light?

In His light,
Pastor Jerry

Look to Jesus

Hello friends,
It was another warm week. Our last good rain was a week ago, and we are ready for more. The heat is stressful for the cucumbers, but they are producing well with frequent watering. Small tomatoes are forming and we have been stocking up with bacon in anticipation of some BLT sandwiches! Disclaimer: Most of the work in this garden is done by my sweet wife.

Do you ever feel you are losing the battle against temptation? Here are some encouraging thoughts:
“As believers, we’ll struggle with indwelling sin for the rest of our lives. The greatest saints have experienced such bitter, unsuccessful struggles with sin, it almost drove them to despair. As the old hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for Thy courts above.”

Proverbs 24:16 reads, “… for the righteous falls seven times and rises again …” (ESV). The righteous fall often, but they get back up, looking heavenward. Put another way, we struggle a lot, but the trajectory of our lives should point heavenward; our lives are a cry for God to change our hearts.

But there are some who seem to just be going through the motions, participating in church like it’s a club or social organization. They don’t have evidence of a desire for God or a supernatural change. They’re not concerned about living in community or using their gifts to serve the body of Christ. And they’re content in not growing. It makes you wonder if they’ve ever really experienced the gospel.

When you struggle, do you get back up again, repenting and believing in faith that God is who he says he is, faithful to save you? Or do you go through the motions, unconcerned with how you’re living your life? The faith that saves is the faith that endures.” [Pastor J.D. Grear]

Remember these words from the apostle Paul: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins…” (1 John 1:9).

Looking up,
Pastor Jerry

Plans Change

Dear readers,
It was an interesting week; in fact, that may be an understatement. We started Wednesday with a doctor’s appointment in Norfolk, and ended up going to Omaha to see another provider. Since we thought we would be coming home from Norfolk, we ended up at Methodist Hospital in Omaha with just the clothes on our backs and stayed for three days. Without going into detail, I will just say it ended well, and I am glad to be out in the sticks, away from six-lane traffic, parking garages and elevators!

Actually, the traffic wasn’t as intimidating as I imagined, and I credit the Lord for providing room for lane changes and bringing us to our destination safely. It’s great to look back and see how he provides. In my devotional readings over those days, two passages of scripture were given to me. They both are long-time favorites of mine that have encouraged me over the years. I will share them with you.

The first is Psalm 23, a familiar psalm that is a favorite of many.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The second scripture is Psalm 62:1-2; 5-8.
1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress; I will never be shaken.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.

In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Master Tuner

Hello friends,
We are officially observing Daylight Saving Time. I trust everyone made it to church on time Sunday. I have seen folks arrive in the parking lot just as worship was ending, and it was embarrassing for everyone.

I like music. I like to make music with my friends who play. I especially like playing when my guitar is in tune. Instruments have to be tuned to a standard, or else all you would have is a lot of meaningless noise. In the ‘old days’ that standard would have been a tuning fork, or a pitch pipe. These days there are electronic models with digital displays, allowing for exact pitch.

Our standard for living in tune with God is his Word. If we don’t return to him and retune, our lives can become like a musical instrument that needs tuning. As an out of tune instrument is not pleasing to the ear, a life not in tune with God has no purpose, nor does it bring him honor.

The Bible tells us that God’s word keeps us pure and in tune with his plan and purpose for our lives. Here are some examples; How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word (Psalm 119:9 NIV).
Your word is completely pure, and your servant loves it (Psalm 119:140 CSB).
I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11 NIV).
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path (Psalm 119:105).

Paul wrote, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2). How do we renew our minds? By living according to God’s word and in his will.

Solomon wrote these words: Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13 NIV). Does your life seem out of tune? Put it in the hands of the Master Tuner.
In Him,
Pastor Jerry

Seasons

Dear friends,

Just one comment on the weather of recent days; Colder and windy! I have winterized the camper in anticipation of those freezing cold nights. Any thoughts of camping will have to wait for spring.

As we prepare for the changing of the seasons once more, I am prompted to reflect on the words of Solomon in the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes.

“There is a time for everything, and a season or every activity under heaven:

A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a

a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Eccl. 3:1-8).

There are seasons of life for each of us, also. We see Spring in our early lives, as we are born and move through childhood. Summer is seen in our productive years, as we work and raise our families. Autumn comes as we mature and reach the age of retirement. Winter is the time when we approach the end of life.

All this reminds me of the need to be prepared for my Winter. When life on earth has ended, what then? The Bible tells us that we have a Savior, and that by placing our faith in Him, we are assured of eternal life, spent in heaven where we will be in His presence forever. Have you made the decision to follow Him with all your heart and soul?

“As God’s fellow workers, we urge you to not receive God’s grace in vain, for He says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Seeing, or Just Looking?

Dear friends,
Everyone at the lake is preparing for the Fourth of July celebration. Saturday morning, the comment was made that the lake front is looking very nice already. It takes dedicated volunteers to make that happen, and we are grateful for each and every one.

Very often, things need to be examined for possible problems, looking to see if there is something that has been overlooked. Maybe it is knowing that a piece of equipment isn’t working as it is supposed to, then one day a light comes on in your mind, and you see a problem you had not recognized. Here are a couple of examples from my week.

Lesson one: For longer than I should admit, I’ve known one of our outside water hydrants needed attention. The seal around the shutoff was leaking when the water was on. Monday, I decided to make repairs. I discovered it had been leaking under the house, and to delay was no longer an option. After a trip to town, and some time to make the repairs, all was well.

Lesson two: The kitchen cold water volume has been lower than the hot side for a long time. I could not figure it out, until just a few days ago. In an act of desperation, I looked under the sink one more time, and saw that the supply line to the cold side was a quarter inch line, as opposed to a half inch on the hot side. Eureka! How did I not see this before? Another trip to town, problem solved.

It is very much the same with our spiritual walk. Now and then, we need to stop and see if we are missing something that is right in front of us. All of us, if we were being honest, could say yes I need to check my life and see if I’m truly walking as the Lord wants me to. Here are a few verses to help us get started.

Psalm 26:2 Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.
Lamentations 3:40; Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 13:5; Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
1 Peter 1:15; But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.

Blessings,
Pastor Jerry

Choose to Love

Dear friends,

Another April week has begun. There were showers this week that according to the old saying, should result in May flowers. But if the weather forecast is correct, those flowers may be delayed. My mom used to say, “spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is?” The answer this year may be “They were Frozen!”

On Saturday, the lake community volunteers came together for the annual spring cleanup day. The efforts of all who participated were very much appreciated. One result of their labor is that the lake is now full. If you missed out on the fun and want to contribute, there are still some projects to do. Contact any board member for information.

It seems the news this past week has all been about people killing other people. We are tempted to ask, what is going on with people? I don’t have any wisdom on my own, but I do know from the Bible that it starts with what has become total disregard for the value of human life. All people are made in God’s image, according to His word. The Bible uses those exact words; “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female” (Genesis 1:27).

Later, when God gave the Ten Commandments, he said simply, “Do not murder” (Exodus 20:13). Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said to our ancestors, do not murder, and whoever murders will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:21).

Paul reminds us of these commands in Romans 13; “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:9-10).

It begins with understanding that all are created in the image of God, therefore every life has value. No one is to take the life of another human being, the exception being capital punishment, but that is not relevant to this conversation.

One other point is this; in addition to disregard for life, there is little or no respect for the property of others. Read the other commands listed above. This is where we must begin. Love one another.

In Him,

Pastor Jerry

Signs of Change

Hello friends,
Our latest camping trip is over. We had an enjoyable time with Alex and Amy, then drove to Pickstown, SD, where we spent three nights at North Point Recreation Area. Our campsite was almost at the edge of the lake. This was our first visit to the area, and we were impressed with the view. We may return in a couple of weeks, weather permitting.

As we traveled, we could see the signs of the changing seasons. Crops are drying down, in preparation for harvest, the leaves are changing to fall colors, and some trees are losing leaves. I have mentioned in previous writings that fall is right at the top of my favorite seasons. Sure, winter comes after autumn, but following that is spring, with all the signs of new life.

Turning this discussion to spiritual matters, the Bible tells us people who have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Savior, will show signs of new life.

A Pharisee named Nicodemus, asked Jesus a question regarding God’s kingdom. Jesus answered in this way: “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Nicodemus was shocked at this statement and asked, “how can a man be born when he is old?” Jesus’ answer was basically this; The new birth speaks of being spiritually reborn. This rebirth is possible only through the power of God’s Holy Spirit. (John 3:3-8). “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

A favorite verse of mine is 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We are told to “put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-23).

Have you experienced the new birth? Are there signs of new life in your thoughts and actions?

In His love,
Pastor Jerry

Where Are You Headed?

Hello faithful readers,
Last week, I told you I was going to have a procedure to repair a weak spot in my aorta. That has been done, and from all reports, it was successful. I thank you for each and every prayer said on my behalf. God is good, all the time.

It was another busy weekend here at the lake. It is encouraging to see so many families enjoying all that the area has to offer. We did receive nearly two inches of rain this week, some got more, some less, in any event it was very much appreciated.

These are uncertain times for most people. What with the covid19 virus, political unrest, economic worries, or whatever might be on your mind, many are concerned about the future.

As a young man, I didn’t spend a lot of time contemplating the future, well maybe as far ahead as my next meal, or the weekend. Thoughts of spiritual matters were very far from my mind even into my thirties. I tried to be just enough better than others I knew, so that if there was judgment at some point, I would surely be good enough to make it through.

Imagine my surprise to find out that none of my preconceived notions of self-righteousness were going to impress a righteous and just God! As I started attending the little church down the road, I began to learn what the Bible really said about sin and my standing with God. Starting with Adam and Eve, every person is born with a sin nature. We have been separated from God by our sin, and we can do nothing on our own to restore that relationship.

Hear the word of the Lord; As It is written, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3: 10-12).
“There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
The answer is Jesus; “That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13).

Forever His,
Pastor Jerry

Memories

Hello friends,
It is time again, for another news brief and devotional thought. There is not much news from our place. We managed to get out for some groceries and for Milrae to get a haircut. She came out of retirement to give me a trim, but she needed a professional (didn’t really trust me to do it). It was good to just get out for a drive, and see the country. One thing more; Grandson Alex has graduated from Mitchell Technical Institute with honors. There was no graduation ceremony, the school will mail diplomas, along with a gift package. Congratulations to him for hanging in there.

Reality came to visit this week. It came in the form of a request for information on something from my far distant past. It is sobering to realize you are one of a few individuals with firsthand knowledge of times past. I’m thankful for being able to recall some long forgotten memories. The question had to do with the country school I attended some 70 years ago.

Scripture tells us to live our life as a long distance race. Paul reminds us that we should not live in the past, but to focus on what lies ahead as we live for Christ. He also tells us to remember our past, because we need to know where we came from.

I’m glad that things don’t stay the same. My education began in a one-room school with no electricity, no running water and no restrooms. Now we have on-line classes all the way to the college level. No one could have imagined such a change in 1949. I am thankful for the memories, but in no way would I want to go back.

Here is the application for the Christian: When we trust Jesus for our salvation, we become new creations. The old is gone and the new has come. Why would anyone want to return to that lost state? Remember the past, but don’t try to live there. We have new life and eternity is before us. The writer of Hebrews says to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1). Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:4).

In His precious name,
Pastor Jerry